Michigan State University physicians have found that vitamin D, if taken for at least three years, could help cancer patients live longer.
In the United States, cancer is the second leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Vitamin D had a significant effect on lowering the risk of death among those with cancer, but unfortunately it didn’t show any proof that it could protect against getting cancer,” said Tarek Haykal, a lead author on the study.
The researchers looked at data from more than 79,000 patients and while the findings showed promise, Haykal cautioned that the exact amount of the vitamin are still unknown. He also said that it’s unclear how much longer vitamin D extends lifespan and why it has this result.
“There are still many questions and more research is needed,” Haykal said. “All we can say is that at least three years of taking the supplement is required to see any effect.”
Results show enough promise, however, that Haykal would like to see more doctors, especially oncologists, prescribe vitamin D to patients in general.
“We know it carries benefits with minimal side effects, he said. “There’s plenty of potential here.”